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Special ed teacher busted smuggling drugs into San Quentin State Prison

September 20, 2016  |  Posted by: Francesca Falzarano
Special ed teacher busted smuggling drugs into San Quentin State Prison

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A school aide, who is facing accusations of smuggling heroin to a death row inmate at San Quentin State Prison, refuted the allegations against her Thursday and stated she wants the jail to investigate how the contraband was able to bypass security.

“I did not bring that in,” Teri Orina Nichols contended in a short interview after she was arraigned in Marin Superior Court in California.

Nichols’ view of events is contradictory that of the prison, which claimed that the heroin was discovered inside a beanie attached to her bra and concealed under her garments.

The prison cited that the beanie also included 18 cell phones and chargers, along with two unknown blue tablets.

Nichols, who posted bail after she was taken into custody in August, was arraigned before Judge Kelly Simmons in Marin Superior Court on Thursday Morning, the Mercury News reported.

She pleaded not guilty to a felony charge of carrying heroin into prison and a misdemeanor charge of importing cell phones to a death row inmate at the San Quentin State Prison.

She was appointed a public defender, and she faces up to four years behind bars if she is convicted.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for October 9th.

Nichols, 47, an employee of the Los Angeles school district, was apprehended at the  prison on August 25th when she was visiting convicted inmate, 50-year-old Bruce Millsap, whose crimes include eight murders in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Orange counties.

Bruce Millsap San Quentin State Prison photo

Death row inmate Bruce Millsap’s San Quentin State Prison photo

The prison reported that the woman made it through an initial security check without being caught with the contraband. However, when she was in a visiting room with Millsap, a corrections officer recognized plastic bags in a garbage can.

When she was questioned by police, Nichols confessed that the bags were used for smuggled food. Then, she admitted to the rest of the contraband she was carrying.

San Quentin State  Prison officials are currently examining how the contraband managed to bypass the screening process, which requires visitors to go through a metal detector.

Millsap is awaiting the death penalty for the slayings of eight people in Southern California that occurred back in the 1990s.

A prison spokesman, Lieutenant Samuel Robinson declined to discuss the status of the investigation and did not indicate whether any employees have been suspended from their posts.

“We don’t want to interrupt or influence the continuing investigation and potential prosecution into this issue,” he stated.

Nichols works as a special education teaching assistant at a high school in the Los Angeles Unified School District. She was employed at the institution for twenty years.

The district reassigned her to an off school site on Monday after gaining knowledge of her arrest.

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